“Peppers from Padrón, some are hot and others are not”. This lapidary phrase is how the Galicians resolve the mystery concerning whether the green fruit that is born in the village of Herbón, in the province of La Coruña (Galicia), will make us curse or delight us with its unmistakable flavour. Peppers from Padrón are small, tender, are eaten fried, dressed with coarse salt and there is no way to know whether the one we have in our fingers is mild or hot. The origin of this vegetable lies in the Mesoamerica and it seems that it is a distant relative of the chilli bean. But when it reached the damp lands of Galicia it shrank, its flavour intensified and it kept its hot flavour just for a few of each harvest.
The discussion over whether they are hot or not could bring back visitors who have come to the area to find out more about Rosalía de Castro, the brilliant poet who wrote A las orillas del Sar. There, on the Paseo del Espolón, by a statue dedicated to Rosalía, she wrote her most beautiful and terrible verses and put a tiny, mystic village with good natural and literary fruit on the map.
If the writer Rosalía put Padrón on the map, Camilo José Cela presented it to the world. The writer, sly, amusing and controverted won the Nobel Prize for Literature in1989. And since then, in Iria Flavia, the village in Padrón where Cela was born, you get not only pilgrims in search of the apostle Santiago, but also devout admirers of the author of Mazurca para dos muertos.
The controversy about peppers would have defined Cela’s character very well, a person who loved to play with language and catch out the people he talked to, just like the peppers, “That the thing about those who believe that they are right is that when they have to demonstrate it, they don't get it right even once”, is one of his phrases that could be applied to the clever clogs who say they have tricks to know whether the vegetable will be hot or not.
Land is life and also death; in Padrón there is an equal dose of joy and reflection, you just have to see the cemetery there is next to the Nobel winner’s house to realise that as well as good food, this is one of best guarded secrets of the people of Padrón and this is why there is never any lack of fresh flowers or courtesy.